OF JUDGMENT: 10/12/2015
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. VICKI B. DANIELS.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: JERRY WESLEY HISAW M.W. ZUMMACH.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: A.E. (RUSTY) HARLOW JR. DALANEY LEE
MECHAM KATHI CRESTMAN WILSON.
LEE, C.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.
Suzann and Greg Davis were divorced on June 10, 2011, on the
ground of irreconcilable differences. They entered into a
property, child-support, and child-custody agreement, with
Suzann retaining physical custody of all three children.
Suzann did not request Greg pay child support. The judgment
was later modified by agreement on November 14, 2012, and
July 16, 2013, after Suzann moved from Southaven,
Mississippi, to South Carolina. Both judgments were consent
orders approved by the chancellor.
In the 2012 judgment, both parties agreed that Greg would pay
$1, 850 a month in child support. The 2013 judgment awarded
custody of Greg and Suzann's middle child to Greg, with
the other two children remaining with Suzann. Visitation was
modified and set out in detail. Monthly child support payable
from Greg to Suzann was set at $1, 000 per month, to increase
automatically to $1, 750 should the middle child move in with
her mother and become enrolled as a full-time student (which
did not occur). Specifically included in the order was their
agreement that "[t]he payment of said child support
shall constitute [Greg's] only obligation for support of
the children to [Suzann]." The children's medical
expenses - not paid by insurance and maintained by Greg -
were to continue to be Greg's obligation, but any
expenses not covered by insurance because they were "out
of network" would be shared equally. Greg would
refinance or sell the former marital home, to be quitclaimed
to him by Suzann, within ninety days.
In 2014, Greg was convicted of criminal charges of making a
false representation with the intent to defraud the
government and embezzlement. A couple of weeks later, Suzann
filed for further modification of physical custody and for
contempt on Greg's part for missing required payments,
including monthly alimony payments, which he had not paid for
a year. Greg answered and sought modification of child
support based on the expected emancipation of the oldest
child or, in the alternative, based on the fact that she
refused to have any relationship with him.
On October 12, 2015, the chancellor entered an order denying
all relief sought by Suzann. The chancellor found that a $30,
000 payment made by Greg to Suzann right after the original
divorce was entered had satisfied the $27, 600 due for unpaid
monthly lump-sum alimony payments of $2, 300 for the twelve
months prior to entry of the order. The remaining sum of $2,
400 would reduce the total balance due, but not take the
place of the upcoming payment (the original divorce property
settlement contained provision for payment of $313, 200 as
lump-sum alimony payable in installments of $2, 300 per
month). The order recited that any future payments to Suzann
not otherwise provided for, such as medical and/or college
expenses, would be credited to the end of the lump-sum
alimony term. Monthly payment of $2, 300 remained an
obligation of Greg. "For clarification purposes"
the chancellor specifically found that Greg was not relieved
of half the children's college and medical expenses.
In recalculating Greg's payments under Mississippi Code
Annotated section 43-19-101 (Rev. 2015), the chancellor found
that his child-support obligation for the two children living
with Suzann was $1, 196 a month - twenty percent of
Greg's monthly income. The chancellor then ordered Suzann
to pay support for her child still living with Greg in the
amount of $632 - fourteen percent of her monthly income.
Offsetting the payments, Greg's obligation for child
support was reduced to $564 per month. Finally, it was
provided that child support would be modified upon the oldest
child becoming emancipated. ¶6. From that order and
opinion Suzann appeals, asserting that the chancellor erred:
(1) in modifying support, there having been no material
change in Greg's circumstances since child support was
reviewed and included in the agreed modification judgment of
July 2013; and (2) in failing to order that Greg pay
attorney's fees and expenses for his contempt.
The standard of review in domestic-relations cases is
limited. In re Dissolution of Marriage of Wood, 35
So.3d 507, 512 (¶8) (Miss. 2010). A chancellor's
factual findings will not be disturbed unless manifestly
wrong or clearly erroneous, or an erroneous legal standard
was applied. Carambat v. Carambat, 72 So.3d 505,
510-11 (¶24) (Miss. 2011). As long as substantial
evidence supports the chancellor's findings, an appellate
court is without authority to disturb them, even if it would
have found otherwise as an original matter. Joel v.